In retrospect this should have been Tony’s guest blog from last week, but he saved the best finds for his visit today.
The morning mist in the Weaver Valley was reluctant to lift and it wasn’t until later on before the warm sunshine began to burn it away. A walk out to the Weaver Estuary was just in time to see several hundred Canada Geese fly in from the east and alight on the river. Unfortunately and immediately a flight of ducks from the direction of the Weaver Sluices was the result of a water sports boat and skier riding up and down the river and disturbing the waterfowl. Another sign of recreational pleasures disrupting the bird life on these marshes.
Out in the morning heat haze on Frodsham Score was a Great White Egret.
Marsh Farm was eventually bathed in glorious sunshine with passage migrants flying over which included: 7 Redpoll (presumed Lesser), 11 Siskin with singles of Grey Wagtail, 4 Pied and 2 White Wagtail, a small passage of Meadow Pipits and Skylark. A female Sparrowhawk was seen on its way by a tiny flock of Swallow. Two Greenland Wheatear were along the pipe on No.1 tank.
Further west and things were developing nicely for Mr Broome when 10 (red-headed) Goosander flew west at 09.40 along the Manchester Ship Canal as seen from the banks of No.4 tank. This was soon followed by an Osprey emerging from the mist and heading south over No.3 tank at 10.25 am.
A couple Redpoll (presumed Lesser) flew south high over the tank with two Yellow Wagtail noted moving north and south and a Siskin flew high to the south. Hirundines are not sticking about and a steady trickle of 200 Swallow, 80 House Martin and 20 Sand Martin were notable. Associated with these migrants was 20 Skylark ‘churruping’ their way south. Perhaps, the highlight of the passerine movement was a Coal Tit that paused briefly by the old pumping station for a 30 minute rest. At the same location and presumably part of the passage was a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Collared Doves are an unusual species on the outer marsh and one flew out across the Mersey Estuary, it was again presumed to be a migrant.
Along the Manchester Ship Canal were three Fox cubs enjoying a drink and hiding away from unfriendly eyes. Two Common Sandpiper were also seen here where a Kingfisher was noted.
Apart from the top raptor sighting of the day there was also some good supporting cast to add to the tally. Three Common Buzzard, 2-3 Sparrowhawk, a Hobby soaring and hunting No.4 tank after midday. Three Kestrel one of which chased a Merlin west at 14.00. The Merlin was an early record.
The Tufted Duck numbers on No.6 tank reached a new autumn high with 316 birds alondside 6 Pintail, Gadwall, Common Teal, Common Pochard, Shoveler also in good numbers. A Garganey was flushed from the Canal Pools and flew out to No.6 tank where it was lost in the clumps pf Michaelmas Daisy flower beds. A further 17 Wigeon were also noted over Frodsham Score.
The arrival of the Vulcan aircraft en route to the Southport Air Show provided a diversion from the birding mid afternoon when it flew in from the direction of Helsby then over No.3 tank/Marsh Farm before banking over Liverpool airport and heading north-west.
Butterflies and Dragonflies were also enjoying the sunshine with 20 Small Tortoiseshell, 20 Small White and several Migrant Hawker Dragonflies.
Observer: Tony Broome (images 4-9) with records from Frank Duff, Don Weedon, Paul Ralston, WSM (image 1-3 & 10-12).